More than 40 members of the EF Benson Society gathered on Saturday for the annual Rye Day. The event celebrates the author’s life and works and attracts admirers from all over the UK and beyond. This year the furthest travelled guest was a Texan who has only recently discovered Benson.
The revelries kicked off with a slap up buffet lunch in the garden at Fletcher’s House, thanks to chef Lee Ransom . Tomato salad is always on the menu on Rye Day – as in the books. Then the party split into two, one group walking to the Benson grave at Rye cemetery and on to Military Road to see the fictional Grebe house in the Mapp and Lucia books . The second walked around the town to look at the houses featured in the books, the first ITV series and in the BBC version which is currently being filmed. These are not the same but fortunately the society’s secretary Allan Downend was able to clear up any confusion with his comprehensive knowledge of the subject.
Then the groups reconvened at Fletcher’s for an immense tea and the fiendishly difficult Benson Quiz. This was followed by champagne and nibbles in the garden of Lamb House. The sun had finally deigned to appear and the audience enjoyed an idyllically peaceful session under the mulberry tree, while Richard Crowest, a professional storyteller who has recorded Benson’s works on CD, read to us. Most of the guests hadn’t had a story read to them for decades and all enjoyed the experience. Fortunately the terrifying ghost story came first and the evening ended on a lighter note.
More information about the EF Benson Society is available at its website.
Photos Seana Lanigan